Friday, November 11, 2011

Heart to Heart

No one ever hangs around a hospital for fun, but somehow, everyone seems to have to spend some time there,whether they like it or not.

My father has been having heart trouble for the last few years, and it finally got bad enough that he had to have surgery. He's never had surgery in his life before, and for his first one, he sure picked a doozy, a triple by-pass. He came through the initial surgery just fine, and then they had to go back in and repair something else the next day. Two heart surgeries in twenty-four hours is hard on any body, but particularly tough on a 76 year-old body.
He did spend a night in the hospital a few years ago, to shock his heart into normal rhythm when it was rattling away like a roller coaster. He didn't like it much, and has spent a great deal of time avoiding going to a hospital ever since.

I find hospitals endlessly fascinating, mostly because I'm rarely in one, and am dying to know what's going on in all the other rooms.
Also, I suspect I watch too many medical tv shows, and have an idea that wildly interesting things are going on in other rooms.
I am always wanting to know what that machine is for and what does that number mean and what does that noise mena and where did the nurse grow up and what is she getting her boyfriend for Christmas. I went up to sit with my dad for the afternoon, so my mom could go and do a few things, and just as I got there, they took dad up for some x-rays. So I chatted to the man in the next bed and his wife, and I learned all about them. (And they had a dog! In the hospital! She was a lovely little dog and very well behaved, but I've never seen a dog in a hospital before. I'm not even sure they do that in France.)

It's hard to see someone you love vulnerable and diminished in a hospital bed. Especially someone you've never seen in a hospital bed before. (And why does everyone look so small in a hospital bed? )But he's doing well and coming along just fine.

We are hoping he will be home next week sometime. My friend Kelly, who's own father was in and out of the hospital a lot the last year of his life, says that when someone you love first comes home from major surgery, you're so happy to have them there you'd do anything for them, and then within a couple of days, you're back to treating them like you always have. In her words, "things go quickly from "Yes, of course, I will happily drive an hour out of my way to go get those imported kumquats from the Congo that you like" to "you'll eat the damn apples from No-Frills I bought the other day and you'll like it."" I'll be sure to treasure the honeymoon while it lasts.

If the heart surgery doesn't kill him, the hospital food might.

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